On Saturday, January 19, travelers in Washington DC and other urban centers should expect disruption around a series of women’s rights rallies and plan journeys bypassing these to minimize travel inconvenience. Protesters in Washington DC will rally at Freedom Plaza. Details of related events across the US can be found at the Women’s March website. The gatherings are expected to be well attended in major cities and to pass off peacefully.
Travelers in urban centers should avoid all demonstrations related to controversial fishing regulations. Yesterday, demonstrators in Talcahuano blocked roads leading to Concepcion and clashed with security forces, prompting the latter to use water cannons to disperse them. Similar protests were reported in San Antonio, where demonstrators blocked access to the city’s port with burning tires.
Today, travelers in urban centers should avoid student protests due to the risk of local unrest. In Bogota, participants will gather at 10:00 AM local time at the District University; at 2:00 PM local time at the National Pedagogical University; and at 4:00 PM local time at the National University. They will then march to the Council of Bogota. The demonstrations have been called to demand increased funding for public higher education. The event is also being held to denounce the heavy-handed response by police during a student protest at the University of Cauca in Popayan on December 13.
On Tuesday, January 15, two police officers were injured when suspected drug cartel members ambushed them in Cadereyta municipality in the Monterrey metropolitan area. On Monday, January 14, two men fired at a Civil Guard barracks in Garcia town, injuring one officer. The incidents underline the risks posed by activities of organized crime gangs in the Monterrey metropolitan area.
Today, travelers in Lima should avoid a march organized by Congressman Roberto Vieira and anti-corruption activists to call for the declassification of documents detailing suspected corrupt ties between Peruvian government officials and Brazilian construction company Odebrecht. Demonstrators will gather at 5:00 PM local time at Ovalo de Miraflores and march along Jose Pardo Avenue to the Brazilian Embassy. Travelers should avoid the demonstration as a precaution and to minimize travel delays.
AFRICA & THE MIDDLE EAST
Unrest was reported near the Maseru Bridge border crossing between Maseru district in Lesotho and South Africa’s Free State on Tuesday, January 15 and Wednesday, January 16. According to unconfirmed local reports, at least one person was killed during clashes on the Lesotho side when security forces fired live ammunition; they were apparently attempting to disperse protesters who blocked the road with burning tires and stones. Officials have yet to confirm the border’s status. Travelers should monitor developments closely and maintain flexible itineraries, as local unrest can always prompt border closures at short notice.
On Saturday, January 19, travelers in Abidjan should plan routes bypassing a demonstration against perceived social injustice and human rights violations. Participants in the rally, which has been called by the ARDH civil society group, are reportedly due to march from the Adjame area to the Palace of Justice. Protesters have been urged by the organizers to wear orange high-visibility vests, in a reference to the populist “Yellow Vest” movement in France.
Travelers in Afar and Oromia regions should anticipate potential disruption due to ongoing demonstrations near Awash and Semera. Protesters have intermittently blocked the A1 Highway since January 10 in protest of a surge in ethnic violence. The road, which connects the country to Djibouti, is the primary import route for key goods. The protests have therefore caused fuel shortages in Oromia, including Addis Ababa. Travelers should avoid all demonstrations and reconfirm the status of routes before setting out.
Travelers in western Oromia region should exercise caution and avoid all travel to the Qellem Wollega zone amid aerial operations by the Ethiopian National Defense Force (ENDF), allegedly targeting training camps of the ex-rebel Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) group. The ENDF has largely targeted the Gidami district in Qellem Wollega; no casualties have been reported, but buildings in the area have been damaged and residents have fled the area.
Today, travelers in Amman should plan routes bypassing a protest at the National Center for Human Rights at 3:00 PM local time. Activists have called for the gathering in solidarity with Rami Sahwil, an engineer who was arrested in December 2018 during a demonstration at the city’s Fourth Circle against a new income tax law. Although most protests in Jordan pass off peacefully, there is potential for local unrest and traffic disruption.
Travelers in Amman should anticipate and avoid further sit-in protests on Thursday evenings at the Fourth Circle. According to local reports, hundreds of people participated in a related gathering on January 10; several participants were arrested. Weekly protests, largely organized via social media, have been staged in response to a controversial income tax law that came into effect on January 1; however, participants in the latest gathering broadened their appeal by demanding wider political and economic reforms. Related protests are also possible in other urban centers.
Today, travelers in urban centers should avoid all protests related to a nationwide 24- hour strike by government workers. The country’s four main labor unions have called for the industrial action over working conditions. Although details of any planned demonstrations are not available, these are likely to be held outside government offices.
Sporadic human cases of Middle East Respiratory syndrome (MERS-CoV) continue to occur in Saudi Arabia. The virus is present in camels and can be transmitted to people who have direct contact or consume raw camel products. Transmission within hospitals can also occur. Travelers should avoid contact with sick people, practice good general hygiene, and refrain from having physical contact with camels or eating and drinking raw camel products.
Today through Saturday, January 19, travelers in Saudi Arabia should anticipate disruption due to forecast dust storms. The General Authority for Meteorology and Environmental Protection has issued an alert warning of Poor Visibility due to strong winds, dust storms, and fog; the storm affected the northern provinces of al Jauf, Hael, Northern Borders, and Tobuk yesterday and will move south towards the provinces of Eastern, Qassim, and Riyadh today.
Yesterday, a car-bomb explosion in Mogadishu occurred close to the Kalkaal Hospital and Banadir Junction at around 4:45 PM local time. Reports indicate that the explosion targeted a local member of Parliament. At least one person was injured.
Travelers in urban centers should continue to exercise caution and avoid all anti-government protests. Today, the Sudanese Professionals’ Association (SPA) has called for a demonstration at 1:00 PM local time in Khartoum. Several opposition groups, including the National Consensus Forces and Sudan Call, will join the protest. Participants will gather along El-Qasr Avenue and attempt to march towards the Presidential Palace. Gatherings in additional cities are planned for the same time.
Today, travelers should anticipate disruption during a general strike by the UGTT trade union federation to demand better wages. In Tunis, a related rally is planned for 11:30 AM local time outside the UGTT office on Mohamed Ali Square. Further protests are expected in front of UGTT offices across the country. The industrial action follows a similar strike on November 22, when thousands gathered outside Parliament on Bardo Square in Tunis.
Non-essential travel to urban centers should be deferred, and those in country should exercise increased caution and avoid protests over a recent fuel price increase and ongoing economic issues. Civil society groups have called for a national shutdown strike, which is due to end today. Security forces used tear gas, water cannons and, reportedly, live ammunition to disperse unruly demonstrators on Monday, January 14 and Tuesday, January 15 in Harare and Bulawayo, which led to significant travel disruption. Further protests are likely in the coming days; travelers should avoid all gatherings due to the credible risk of violence.
ASIA & THE PACIFIC
On Saturday, January 19, travelers in urban centers should avoid a series of rallies by the local “Yellow Vest” movement as a precaution. Rallies are due to take place in Adelaide, Brisbane, Cairns, Canberra, Melbourne, Perth, and Sydney. Turnout is not expected to be high at any of the gatherings, and they are likely to pass off peacefully; however, local travel disruption is likely in their vicinity.
On Thursday, January 3, 2019, the US Department of State issued an “updated” Travel Advisory for China. The US Department of State still lists China under its Level 2 Advisory (US citizens should “exercise enhanced caution” when traveling). The updated Travel Advisory released on Thursday, January 3 goes into greater detail in listing the potential risks for dual US/ Chinese citizens. US Citizens traveling to China or Tibet are advised to carry a valid US Passport and Chinese Visa at all times while in country and to enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program (STEP) prior to departing the United States.
Travelers in Kerala state should avoid all gatherings related to a contentious Supreme Court verdict to revoke a ban on women entering the Sabarimala Temple. The entry of two women into the temple on January 2 sparked incidents of unrest across Kerala. At least one person was killed, and 100 others injured during a related shutdown strike on January 3. Tens of thousands of women devotees staged statewide protests in support of the verdict on January 1, two days after the temple reopened for the Hindu festival of Makara Vilakku, which runs through Sunday, January 20.
Travelers in northeastern states should continue to avoid protests against two controversial bills due to the potential for unrest. Protests have been held in recent days, including a shutdown strike on Friday, January 11 in Asom state, over the Citizenship (Amendment) and Constitution (Scheduled Tribes) Amendment bills. The former would grant citizenship to undocumented non-Muslim immigrants from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. The second bill would grant the Scheduled Tribe status to six indigenous tribal groups of Asom, providing them legal protections and advantages.
Today, travelers in Jakarta should anticipate heightened security and associated traffic disruption during a Presidential debate at the Hotel Bidakara. Authorities will deploy 2,000 security force personnel and impose traffic restrictions in the vicinity of the venue. The Election Commission also arranged a dedicated assembly area and screens outside of the hotel in anticipation of potential gatherings by candidate supporters. Travelers undertaking road travel should circumvent the area to minimize inconvenience.
From Thursday, January 24 through Sunday, January 27, travelers in Iloilo City should anticipate increased security and travel disruption during the annual Dinagyang Festival. More than 6,000 security personnel will be deployed to secure the festival. Checkpoints will be set up at entry points to festival venues and items such as backpacks, luggage, bladed weapons, pointed sticks, buckled knives, and glass bottles will be prohibited. Mobile phone services will be shut down temporarily between 6:00 AM and 2:00 PM local time on Saturday, January 26 and Sunday, January 27. Travelers should plan routes avoiding festival areas around the Dinagyang Grandstand, San Jose Parish Church, SM City Iloilom, and Iloilo Business Park.
Travelers in urban centers should anticipate and avoid protests calling for an end to further delays to the General Election. Activists will stage a rally on Saturday, January 19 at the Democracy Monument in Bangkok. The election was tentatively scheduled for February 24; however, earlier today, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha stated that the election date would be delayed, though he did not announce the new date. The constitution states that the election must take place by May 9, 2019.
Travelers using the Georgian Military Road should plan alternative routes due to the on-going closure of the highway. The highway has been closed since 11:00 PM local time on Tuesday, January 15 due to heavy snow. Today, over 200 vehicles are reportedly waiting at the Verkhny Lars border crossing.
Today, travelers in Brussels should plan journeys bypassing a demonstration by environmentalist activists to minimize inconvenience. Participants will gather at the Europakruispunt Square outside Bruxelles-Central Train Station between 10:00 AM and 1:30 PM local time and march through the city center. A related protest organized by the “Youth for Climate” group in Brussels on January 10 attracted around 3,000 participants.
Today, passengers transiting Helsinki Airport (HEL) should reconfirm their flights as heavy snowfall is expected to cause significant disruption. National carrier Finnair has canceled 41 international and domestic flights scheduled for today and has also warned of additional delays. Up to eight inches of snow and wind gusts of up to 36 miles per hour are forecast.
Today, travelers in Lyon should avoid the vicinity of the Doua campus of Lyon University in the Villeurbanne municipality as emergency services respond to an on-going fire. The fire started as a result of a gas leak and exploding gas bottles and is not being treated as suspicious. At least one person has been injured. Travelers should avoid the area to minimize inconvenience.
Travelers in urban centers should exercise caution and avoid weekly protests by supporters of the populist “Yellow Vests” movement. Related demonstrations have been planned for Saturday, January 19 in Paris, and are also expected in other cities. Around 84,000 demonstrators rallied nationwide on January 12, including 8,000 participants in Paris, marking a significant increase from the previous week. Authorities deployed around 80,000 police officers across the country. There is a potential for unrest during future gatherings, which are liable to be forcibly dispersed by authorities.
Today, travelers in Athens should avoid an ongoing rally by civil servants in front of the Parliament building. Protesters are demonstrating in solidarity with teachers over a new bill that regulates teachers’ employment. While the rally is likely to pass off peacefully, streets around Parliament have been cordoned off by police, creating travel disruption in the area.
On Sunday, January 20, travelers in Moscow should avoid an authorized protest by various civil society groups at 1:00 PM local time in Suvorovskaya Square. The rally is being organized against the potential handover of South Kuril Islands to and along access routes to the city. Various groups plan to hold a rally from Republic Square to the St Sava Temple to mark Putin’s visit. Organizers expect around 70,000 people to participate in the march.
On Saturday, January 19, travelers in Belfast should avoid simultaneous protests from 2:00 PM to 3:00 PM local time outside City Hall. The NIPSA trade union has called for a counter-demonstration against a gathering by a local “Yellow Vest” group.